Masticatory performance has been positively associated with cognitive ability in both animals and healthy humans. We hypothesised that there would also be a positive correlation between masticatory performance and cognition in older persons suffering from dementia. Older persons suffering from dementia (n = 114) and receiving institutionalised care were studied in a cross-sectional design. The assessments included masticatory performance, which was measured objectively with a two-colour gum mixing ability test, and cognition, which was assessed with a multidomain neuropsychological test battery. Significant relationships were observed between masticatory performance and general cognition and between masticatory performance and verbal fluency. Hierarchical regression analysis revealed that the correlation with general cognition was influenced by the scores for dependency in activities of daily living. The association between verbal fluency and masticatory performance was not significantly affected by secondary variables. An unexpected limitation of this study was the high dropout rate for the mixing ability test. The clinical implications of these findings are profound; care professionals should endeavour to maintain and stimulate mastication in older persons with dementia in an attempt to preserve cognition.
Weijenberg, R. A. F., Lobbezoo, F., Visscher, C. M., & Scherder, E. J. A. (2015). Oral mixing ability and cognition in elderly persons with dementia: A cross-sectional study. Journal of Oral Rehabilitation, 42(7), 481-486. https://doi.org/10.1111/joor.12283